Mental Snapshots: Remembering My Wedding by Nia McLean

first kiss bride groom wedding

Sadly, this blog post is dedicated to my friend Ryan, whose fiancée died suddenly this morning. They just got engaged on Thanksgiving.

When I was preparing for my wedding, many of the married people I knew told me to stay as present as possible because the actual event would go by very quickly. They were absolutely right. After nine months of planning (which I have lamented about in previous posts), my ceremony and reception was over in a flash. This is why getting a photographer and videographer of some sort is important. At my ceremony, I was the last person to enter the sanctuary, so it is great to have footage of everything that happened before I walked down the aisle. Even when I finally got to the altar, I was so nervous and excited that I could not take everything in. Standing there and saying vows that I helped write felt surreal. If it were not for the photos and the video, I would have missed a lot. Nonetheless, there are some memories that definitely stand out.

first kiss bride groom wedding

Walking Down The Aisle

Sean and I followed tradition and did not see each other the day of the wedding until the wedding began. There was so much build up. While he was standing at the front of the church with our pastor and his best man, I was in the chapel waiting. I had seen his tuxedo, but I wondered how he would look in it (he looked amazing). I wondered how he would like me in my dress. As I walked to through the sanctuary doors, Sean’s face was the first I saw. He was smiling. I tried not to cry and risk ruining my makeup (vain but true). From the corners of my eye, I noticed everyone standing, snapping pictures, and beaming at me. Still, all I focused on was Sean.

bride walking down aisle

Family Dance

Sean’s mother played such an integral role in helping us pull our wedding together that we wanted to honor her in some way. We arranged for the deejay to play “Mama” by Boyz II Men so that she and Sean could have a son-mother dance. Somehow the wires got crossed and my wedding coordinator told Sean’s father to dance with me as well. Though it was not what we intended, it was beautiful. Not wanting to leave my mother out, I pulled her to the floor and she, Sean and I danced together.

family first dance wedding

Fairy Dust

A few glitches (no matter how organized you are, stuff happens) occurred at our reception venue right before Sean and I arrived. Though I was able to get things under control, I was irritated that I had to deal with issues that I thought were rectified earlier in the week. My emotions always show on my face. As my wedding party lined up to enter the reception, my bridesmaids noticed my annoyance and endeavored to cheer me up. Suddenly, they huddled around me and one of them shouted “happy fairy dust”. On cue, they all pretended to sprinkle imaginary dust on me. It definitely worked.

bridal party celebrating

Friend Dance

As I stated early on, Sean and I are native Washingtonians. This means that we grew up listening to go-go music. I was determined to play go-go at my wedding. My matron of honor and five (out of eight) of my bridesmaids are also from DC. We have been friends since junior high and I wanted to give them a shout out. I decided to do this by having the deejay play UCB’s “Sexy Ladies”. As we danced together, it felt like we were doing more than celebrating my nuptials. We were celebrating over 20 years of friendship. I took a moment to glance around the circle and my heart was so full of love for these women that have always been there for me.

mother of the bride

Awkward Cake Cutting and Toasting

Our cake was a beautiful sight to see until we were told to cut it. Actually, the cake, even as we hacked it up, still looked better than our effort. Though I know it would not have been practical to practice cutting cakes (unless we were cutting them for others to eat as I had a form-fitting dress that I needed to get into), we probably should have. In all of our cake cutting pictures, Sean looks tense or confused (his observation). The same is true for toasting. Our wedding coordinator is old school and she insisted that we do the linking arms toast in which we were supposed to drink from each other’s glasses. It ended up feeling like one of those human puzzle team-building exercises. In retrospect, we should have just done what felt (and looked) natural.

waiting for the bride

It has been a month since that beautiful, amazing, stressful, hilarious day and thinking about it still brings a smile to my face (and sometimes tears to my eyes). I am still in awe that I am married to my best friend, that I have a new last name, and that what we have to look forward to is the rest of our lives, rather than a singular event.

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